“I want to share my story to help people change their own stories.

—Olivia “fiyabomb” Be’Nguyen
  • Olivia’s parents wanted her to have the kind of financial security they’d worked hard to find as immigrants from Vietnam. To them, that meant keeping her steady job at the nail salon.
  • But Olivia started to question that path as she realized that her passion for fine arts and her entrepreneurial mindset pulled her in another direction.
  • Armed with the skillset she learned in her NFTE class, she quit her nail salon job and launched her art career—
    with the earnestness of an entrepreneur.

Olivia enrolled in a NFTE class mostly, to meet high school graduation requirements. The teacher’s passion about entrepreneurship resonated with the self-taught surrealist artist.

Olivia’s successful journey underscores that not winning the business plan pitch competitions doesn’t diminish the valuable NFTE experience. What she gained was far more life-altering. She discovered her entrepreneurial mindset and acquired the skillset to make the career she wanted happen.

Like many students, Olivia found that her parents didn’t encourage her interest in a career in the fine arts. They cautioned her that there was no money in art. They might have understood a career path as a doctor, a nurse or a lawyer. Beyond that, in their minds, the only other alternative was getting a job in the nail salon where her mother was working.

When she graduated high school, Olivia dutifully started working in the nail salon as her parents suggested. They were right that it was a safe and stable place. It was also stifling for Olivia. Fear might have kept her there anyway, but she believed in her talent. With her NFTE training, Olivia was confident she had the tools to build a successful business around her art.

Olivia went on to study art and marketing. As she says, “just because you’re doing what you love doesn’t mean you aren’t going to be successful or make money. You can still do it. You have it in you.”

Her paintings sell for thousands of dollars and portfolio includes exhibits, prints and stickers. Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and raised in Hartford, Connecticut, the artist even displayed paintings meant to “educate the spirit of women” at the Connecticut Capitol. Her work has been featured in Hollywood movies, and her creative genius is sought out by A-list celebrities such as Big Sean, 50 Cent, Drake, Saweetie, and Spike Lee.

Olivia, who signs her work as the personal brand Fiyabomb, has built a vibrant career as an artist, teacher and gallery owner, realizing her dream by unleashing her entrepreneurial spirit.

(Photo sources: NFTE & Fiyabomb)